I hesitate to share my experiences at working outside of work, because I'm not like Grant or Steve, who've done well with their learning. And I assume like David Poole as well. My work for work's sake hasn't brought me advances in my career as I had hoped it would. It hasn't brought me recognition, either. It has helped me get a job after being laid off. So, think of me as a middle achiever.
I am a lifelong learner. I love to learn, for learning's sake. And I try to use what I learn either for projects at home or in my job. Like David, I pay for a Pluralsight subscription.
A large part of the reason I think I'm only average is because I live in an environment which has some strange cultural norms. For example, mentoring isn't valued in my community at all. As far as I can tell it never has been.
In my current position I can't practice what I learn on Pluralsight, unless it is the simplest concept, because no one will use it. For example, I am currently in my second Pluralsight course on WebAPIs, this one using .NET 6. I know this it is better to break up the functionality of an app into discrete components (don't go overboard with that, though), so that you can write components which can be used by other applications. I did this successfully at my previous job, using APIs (with an older technology), which we would consume with reports, Windows apps, and web apps. It was great. But where I work now no one wants to write APIs or consume them. They would much rather write the same routine repeatedly. A hundred times, if necessary. I don't know why, other than the excuse, "We've always done it this way."
This leads me to a conclusion that it is helpful, for me at least, to have an environment which is willing to try new things. That way you can write something others can use or use something written by someone else. I don't get that here. I've been trying to find some people who I could work on a project with but haven't been too successful at that. A couple of years back I contributed to Humanitarian Toolbox on GitHub in a very modest way, but to be honest with you they're lightyears ahead of me. So, I'm going to try to find another GitHub open-source project I can contribute to, which hopefully isn't lightyears ahead of me.
I do attend my local user group meetings, whenever I can. Which is most of the time.
I've noticed that there are no Microsoft MVP from my state. At least that's my perception. I don't know why.
I keep learning and studying, even if it doesn't get me anything.
Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.